Wayne 6, Narberth 2 - (susp T6)

Wayne’s Mutz making most of college eligibility, Delco League playoffs

By Matt Smith

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NARBERTH » Luke Mutz is making the most of his two remaining years of college eligibility.

After graduating from Swarthmore College with a double major in biology and economics, concluding his four-year Garnet career with the Centennial Conference Player of the Year award in 2022, Mutz is joining the Villanova program for the 2023 campaign.

In the meantime, the slick fielding second baseman is hitting leadoff for Wayne in its semifinal round series against Narberth.

Game 3 of the best-of-5 was suspended Wednesday due to darkness with Wayne holding a 6-2 advantage in the top of the sixth inning. The teams will meet Friday at Narberth Park to finish Game 3 and start Game 4. The series is tied 1-1.

Back to Mutz. Last year he competed in a college summer league, Perfect Game in upstate New York, and did well enough to attract the attention of Division I programs.

“I was looking for schools and I ended up going to Villanova, so I’m really excited about that,” Mutz said. “I knew I still wanted to play and I knew I couldn’t play at Swarthmore so I went up there, tried to get good numbers against a lot of good competition. It was mostly Division I players, which was great. I ended up doing pretty well, so I entered the transfer portal shortly after the season and I had some contact with Villanova early and it was a good fit.”

Mutz was 2-for-4 in Game 3 with a pair of RBI singles. He got to Narberth starter Jimmy Wigo in the second inning, singling home Jake Siani to make it a 1-0 game. In the fifth he provided another run-scoring hit, this time off lefty reliever Tyler Kehoe, to bring in Siani again. Wayne batted around in the fifth, plating five runs to take a 6-2 lead.

“We’ve had some high-scoring affairs in the first couple of games, so a big focal point today was just kind of seeing your pitches, make sure you get yours and, if not, grind out long at-bats,” said Mutz, an All-Delco player at Strath Haven under Wayne coach Brian Fili. “You know, the worst-case scenario is you don’t score in the first few innings, but they throw a lot of pitches and just get to the bullpen and, you know, we got good enough hitters that we’re going to score at some point.”

Wigo and fellow Marple Newtown grad Cam Mathes, who pitched five solid innings for Wayne, both had to work through command issues in the early going. Wigo allowed four hits, three of which didn’t leave the infield, and a run with four strikeouts across 3.2 innings. Wigo was a bit shaken up after drilling Steven Wells in the front of the helmet in the first inning. After a long delay Wells was able to dust himself off and stay in the game.

“The first inning was rough. My front shoulder was pulling out and I wasn’t getting my glove side up, so everything was falling high arm side,” said the left-hander Wigo, who will pitch at Monmouth starting next year. “And when that happens, you saw it, I nailed him right in the head. You just have to move on and forget about it as best as you can. I know I have to throw more strikes. Too many high counts, but as soon as I get ahead it’s different for me.”

Mathes, the cagey veteran, was able to settle down, too. He gave up two straight hits, including a bunt single, and walked Pat Toal to load the bases with no outs in the fourth. He battled back to strike out Dom Joseph and forced a ground ball fielder’s choice off the bat of Zach Tropiano; a throwing error by shortstop Nate Sides enabled two runners to score for Narberth.

After Wayne regained the lead with a five-spot in the fifth, Mathes pitched a 1-2-3 frame to end his night. The Villanova grad allowed three hits, two runs (one earned) and walked three, but also struck out five and coaxed a lot of weak contact.

“Cam is a D-A-W-G dawg. I mean that,” Mutz said. “We’re always confident with him on the mound. I don’t care if it’s bases loaded and nobody out. I love watching him pitch, I love playing behind him. And we know he’s going to compete for us every single pitch.”

Narberth coach Steve DeBarberie was forced to call upon three relief pitchers in Kehoe, Joe Ravert and Colin Simmons, who issued consecutive walks to Wells and Mike Valente to begin the sixth before play was halted. The good news is everyone has a day off Thursday, but both coaches are limited in terms of substitutions when they resume play Friday.

“Ravert came in and got out of a big situation for us (in the fourth), but then they just started hitting his curveball. They put good swings on the ball,” Narberth coach Steve DeBarberie said. “We’ll be back Friday and hopefully we can get out this jam. It’s still a tight ballgame and we got two at bats left, so hopefully we can keep it here and see what happens.”